The Queensland Police Service (QPS) has been running a ‘Blue Surf’ program for members of the Service to undertake free ‘learn to surf’ sessions with an accredited surf school as part of the Our People Matter initiative.
The Our People Matter strategy focuses on the health, safety and wellbeing of QPS members and their families.
Blue Surf provides an environment to help members who often deal with emotive, tense, distressing and challenging circumstances at work which can affect the mental health and wellbeing of the individual.
Senior Sergeant Julie Gilmore established the initiative after witnessing colleagues and friends suffer from post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues.
Senior Sergeant Gilmore said surfing had been a good outlet for her, so she wanted to give other QPS members the chance to experience something similar.
“With surfing, when you’re on a wave, you can only think about what is happening in the moment,” Senior Sergeant Gilmore said.
“It is a real adrenaline rush, and this can help when things are tough at work.
“Plus, you’re in a beautiful environment which reminds you that work isn’t everything.”
Our People Matter has held multiple 90-minute sessions with an informal barbeque after the lesson for families of the participants.
Sworn and unsworn members were both keenly interested in learning to surf while they were off duty.
Acting Superintendent Corey Allen said to date, 75 lessons had been organised over six days with adults and 23 grommets (children) who have taken part in the Blue Surf initiative.
“It is very enjoyable to watch people learning to surf and the participants get to watch and laugh at one another,” Acting Superintendent Allen said.
“Blue Surf is an example of the types of initiatives that can be organised as an ‘Our People Matter’ program and is aimed at all members of the QPS as an inclusive activity.”
Surfing not only improves physical fitness, but it also clears your mind and it’s great for building resilience.
The QPS has a range of support for employees in managing their mental health.
All staff have access to:
• Peer support officers;
• Human services officers;
• Phone support services; and
• Early intervention treatment program.
The initiative will continue into the future and it is hoped that it can be implemented throughout Queensland.